What’s worse—a text that reads ‘k,’ or one that says ‘Okay.”?
People my age are incredibly familiar with the nuances of text punctuation. A friend’s response to a “running late!” text could read “that’s fine!” or “That’s fine.” To break it down for the less text-savvy, the first message implies enthusiasm and easygoingness, while the second implies curt impatience. To send “…that’s fine.” would imply even more intense irritation—the ellipsis is the text version of staring blankly at someone in annoyance before responding.
Adding a period makes a text seem more formal and clipped, less mellow and friendly.
In “Period. Full Stop. Point. Whatever It’s Called, It’s Going Out of Style,” New York Times correspondent Dan Bilefsky describes waning period usage as the result of text message and internet communication, in which each new message has a clear ending without final punctuation. Bilefsky spices up his report by omitting final periods from nearly every sentence:
“‘We are at a momentous moment in the history of the full stop,’ Professor Crystal, an honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor, said in an interview after he expounded on his view recently at the Hay Festival in Wales”
Bilefsky is making a sort of joke by borrowing this informal punctuation convention for a highly formal medium. But what’s interesting to me is that dropping periods as a trend isn’t exclusive to people who don’t care about grammar. Instead, intentionally incorrect capitalization, grammar, or punctuation are used to modify tone based on one’s audience and situation. It’s just another example of people my age who are bending and changing grammatical rules to adapt to a shifting social and technological environment.